Saturday, June 15, 2013

Observations at the nest of a Common Nighthawk

The Common Nighthawk is the American Birding Association's 2013 Bird of the Year. In April they migrate through our South Florida neighborhood and some stay to breed here each year. 

Our daughter visited the newly reopened Hall of Birds at the Field Museum in Chicago and took this cell phone photo of one of my nighthawk images that was used in their new interactive bird exhibit.

Nighthawk in Field Museum MAY 2013

Last year, as reported earlier, I discovered the eggs of a Common Nighthawk.

Common Nighthawk eggs macro SOOC 20120614

This year, on May 19th, I found a fresh egg shell along the gravel road that leads into the wetlands near our south Florida home. The parent had alerted me to its presence by flying up from this spot. For fear of stepping on a chick I did not venture in immediately.

Common Nighthawk egg shell 20130519

Eight days later Mary Lou and I got out early to check on the progress of the breeding herons in the local rookery. On the way into the wetlands the nighthawk once again burst off its nest and tried to lure us away.

Common Nighthawk 20130527

This time I took careful notice of the exact spot where the bird had been sitting. Scanning with my binoculars, I found its single chick.

Common Nighthawk chick 2-20130524

Six days later the little nighthawk showed development of flight feathers.

Common Nighthawk chick 20130531

The baby was very well hidden. It is in the very center of this photo. To see it clearly, click on the image and select the original size.

Find the baby nighthawk 20130531

The last time I saw the nestling was on June 1, which was two weeks after I found its empty egg shell. It appeared nearly ready for flight.

Common Nighthawk nestling 201306

As before, the adult bird remained close by. While we had seen a pair of adults at this site several weeks before, only one adult had been present since we discovered the nest.

Common Nighthawk 201306

On June 7 an adult nighthawk dive-bombed over my head as I walked in the area of the nest. 

Common Nighthawk 2-20130607

I put together this video which illustrates the parent's behavior.

If video fails to run please visit this URL


  1. Wow, cool post on the Nighthawk! They are awesome birds, great sightings.

  2. their markings and their slotted eyes are so cool! glad that chick made it!

  3. ¸.•°✿✿⊱彡

    Passei para uma visitinha.
    Belo registro... amo aves e flores.

    ✿º° Bom domingo!
    º°♪ Boa semana!
    Beijinhos .♫º

  4. Very interesting, great photos!

  5. I did a post about the nighthawk a few years ago! It was the first bird I ever remember wondering about (and nobody knew anything)...birding wasn't encouraged in my neighborhood/family.


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